Monday, December 3, 2012

Weapon Showcase - India

Let's get one thing straight - Indian weapons are awesome for the names alone. Firangis and kayamkulams and talwars sound wonderful, even if facing one in the hands of an angry kshatriya would be anything but pleasant. I was recently bumping around for the name of one type of sword in particular - the pata - when I came across the others and decided to write about them here, giving them some stats for Blood & Treasure. So, without further ado -

Note - all images come from Wikipedia


The aruval is an Indian machete-like weapon. The top section is curved and comes to a point, and gives wielders a +1 bonus to grapple attacks. The base is often kept razor sharp so it can be used for slashing.

Medium weapon; 1d4+1 damage; 2 lb.; 8 gp

Bagh nakh

The famous bagh nakh are also known as tiger's claws. The bagh nakh consists of four or five short, curved, claw-like blades affixed to a metal cross-bar or a glove. Bagh nakh grant the user a +1 bonus to Climb task checks.

Light weapon; 1d3 damage; 1 lb.; 5 gp


The bhuj is also known as a gandasa, or axe-dagger. The dagger blade is affixed to an axe-like haft. The blade is short (7 to 10 inches) and broad, with a gentle curve. The haft is usually hollow and hides another slim, stiletto-like blade.

Light weapon; 1d6 damage (or 1d4 damage from stiletto); 4 lb.; 9 gp


The bichawa is a loop-hilted dagger with a narrow, undulating blade. Based on the maru, or horn dagger, of southern India, it is often used as an ornamental weapon. The loop hilt sometimes serves as a knuckle-guard. The weapons are about 1 foot long.

Light weapon; 1d4 damage; 1 lb.; 2 gp


The firangi is a long, straight-bladed sword imported into India from Portugal. The blades were manufactured in Europe, and the name of the sword is derived from the Arabic term for Europeans, al-faranji (i.e. Frank). Blades were usually 3 feet long, and either of the broadsword (double-edge) or backsword (single-edge) variety. Firangi had basket-hilts that provide the wielder a +1 bonus to save vs. disarm attacks. Because of its length, it was traditionally used as a cavalry weapon.

Medium weapon; 1d8 damage; 4 lb.; 15 gp

Monks don't have to look like Bruce Lee

The gada is a Indian bludgeoning weapon not too different from a heavy mace. It has a large, heavy metal head in the shape of a ball on a thick, short shaft. It is often used as physical training equipment, and Hanuman favored it as a weapon. Because of the thickness of the shaft, it must be wielded with two hands save by those with a strength score of 16 or higher.

Heavy weapon; 1d6+1 damage; 9 lb.; 12 gp


The kalarippayatt is a 2-1/2 foot long wooden stick that is used as a practice weapon by young warriors learning dagger fighting. It is also used as a weapon in its own right. It is usually made from the wood of the tamarind tree.

Light weapon; 1d3 damage; 1 lb.; 1 gp

Kayamkulam vaal

The kayamkulam vaal is a stately, double-edged dueling blade favored by the aristocracy of Nair. The blade is of medium length and tapers from the hilt to the very sharp point. It was often wielded with a buckler.

Medium weapon; 1d6 damage; 3 lb.; 20 gp


The khanda is a broad, straight-bladed sword with very little point. A spike projects from the hilt. The khanda, having virtually no point, is not used for thrusting, but for hacking and slashing, somewhat like an axe.  The sword is double-edged and heavy.

Medium weapon; 1d6+2 damage; 4 lb.; 30 gp


The lathi is a long staff, usually measuring about 6 to 8 feet in length, and often tipped with metal. A weapon of Indian monks.

Medium weapon; 1d6 damage; 4 lb.; 1 sp


The maduvu is a unique Indian weapon used by the martial artists (i.e. monks) of India. Made from deer horns, it is treated as a double-bladed dagger. Monks using a maduvu keep a low profile, and use it more as a defensive weapon than offensive. Monks armed with maduvu can treat it as a shield rather than weapon during each round of combat.

Light weapon; 1d4 damage; 1.5 lb.; 5 gp

Malappuram Kathi

The malappuram kathi was an ancient form of dagger used in Kerala. The blade is about 2 feet long and thicker at the top than at the base. The hilt was made from deer horn. It is said that wounds from a malappuram kathi were difficult to heal and often became infected. This was owed either to the unique construction of the weapon or the metals used by the very few Keralan blacksmiths who knew the secret of forging the weapon.

Light weapon; 1d3+1 damage; 1.5 lb.; 2 gp


Moplah are very short swords with wide blades - wider at the tip than the base. Moplah were worn on the back, using special belts.

Light weapon; 1d6 damage; 2 lb.; 5 gp


The parashu is a large, Indian battle axe. Some were double-bladed, while others had a single-blade and a spike. Most were about 5 feet in length.

Large weapon; 1d8+1 damage; 12 lb.; 20 gp


The pata is a very unique Indian straight-bladed sword that incorporates a gauntlet as the handguard. The wielder places his hand in the gauntlet and the sword is held rigid pointing straight out from the wielder's lower arm. Pata were most often wielded one in each hand, or a pata was wielded in one hand and a javelin, whip or axe in the other. Pata could be from 1 to 4 feet in length, so we can assume that dual-wielders probably used one long pata and one short pata. The gauntlet guard gives the wielder a +2 bonus to save vs. disarm attacks.

Short Pata: Light weapon; 1d4+1 damage; 2 lb.; 10 gp

Long Pata: Medium weapon; 1d6+1 damage; 4 lb.; 15 gp


The talwar is a curved sword that originated with the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. Wider than similar Middle Eastern swords, it usually had a disc hilt. Because the blade is not too tilted, it is useful for slashing and thrusting, and because the tip of the blade is especially heavy it was quite useful for amputating and decapitating opponents. When wielded by an attacker with at least a +3 attack bonus (and the Weapon Focus feat, if feats are used in your game), the talwar deals a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20; though a critical hit on a "19" allows the target a Reflex saving throw to avoid it.

Medium weapon; 1d8 damage; 5 lb.; 15 gp


The trishula is an Indian trident that also serves as a potent Hindu and Buddhist symbol. Although as a symbol it is often pictured without the haft, as a weapon is it usually hafted. Hindu clerics of war often choose the trishula as their weapon.

Medium weapon; 1d6+1 damage; 4 lb.; 15 gp


The urumi is a long sword with a flexible blade. The blade is sturdy enough to slice through flesh, but flexible enough to be rolled into a coil. The urumi is almost as dangerous to the wielder as it is to the target, and any time an urumi-wielder rolls an attack roll that is less than 20 - his attack bonus, he must pass a Reflex save or suffer 1d4 points of damage. Wielders with an attack bonus of at least +3 (and the Weapon Focus feat if this feat is used in your game) can choose to brandish the weapon, swinging it back and forth before them in arcs - when doing so, any creature attacking them in melee combat with a weapon shorter than 4-ft. must pass a Reflex save each round or suffer 1d4 points of damage.

Medium weapon; 1d6+1 damage; 6 lb.; 28 gp

Image from


The vel is a broad-bladed spear used primarily by the Tamils in combat. The weapon's name is derived from the divine weapon of the Hindu deity Murugan.

Thrown weapon; 1d6 damage; range 40/80; 3 lb.; 2 gp

Murugan's Vel: +3 holy vel; when hurled against a tree, it splits the tree into two halves, which become celestial animals of Murugan's choosing


  1. The weights on those weapons seem a bit heavy. A Talwar should probably weigh the same as a saber or scimitar, which would be 2-3 lbs. D&D has a bad habit of listing its weapons with completely ridiculous weights.

    The standard D&D weapons were much heavier than their real-world counterparts, likely because the creators of the game only had wall-hanger replicas to work with and get their information from.

  2. Here's hoping B&T versions of Indian Character Classes will follow at some point.

  3. Great stuff -- nice to see some unusual stuff. I've always loved Indian swords. so many varieties.

    As the other guy said, one-handed swords were generally 2-3 pounds throughout history, and although axes and maces feel heavier in the hand because the weight is more concentrated at the end, they were usually in that range too. The gada was unusually heavy so 3-5 pounds might be realistic.

    I think part of the reason people overestimate weapon weights is that museums and books almost always only tell you the length of their specimens. I remeber finding some data on weights that some guy had painstakingly assembled it seemed like one-handed weapons were almost always under 4 pounds, and two-handed weapons around 4-5 pounds. The main exceptions were ceremonial/parade weapons which were much heavier, and some polearms.

    As far as the Urumi goes, it's really a steel whip, and I'd reduce the damage to d4 or d4+1. But it was often worn like a belt to conceal the weapon, which is kind of cool.


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